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End of Eaton’s

The Story


In February 1997 George Eaton stuns Canadians when he announces that the venerable Canadian company has filed for bankruptcy protection. Two years later the unthinkable happens; Eaton's goes bankrupt. Is it changing consumer tastes or bad management that brings down a Canadian institution? Journalist Rod McQueen, author of The Eaton's: The Rise and Fall of Canada's Royal Family, blames the latest Eaton heirs, who he says have too much wealth and privilege to care about the family business. But some analysts say that all department stores have become dinosaurs. For years Eaton's suffered heavy losses because of specialty stores like Canadian Tire and later big-box American stores like Wal-Mart. But since the 1960s Eaton's had also been losing ground to its main department store competitor Simpson Sears.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: May 18, 1999
Guest: Rod McQueen
Host: Rex Murphy
Duration: 5:00

Did You know?


• As of 1997, Eaton's held only 11.4 per cent market share of department store sales. It ranked fifth in Canada behind the Bay, Sears, Zellers and Wal-Mart. During the 1950s Eaton's had a 50 per cent market share and was Canada's top department store.
• In 1997 Eaton's had an estimated 24,500 employees and over 90 retail outlets across Canada, many of which were considered integral parts of their communities.

• When Eaton's filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997 it owed its creditors $419 million. The family owned all the shares of the company.


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